Parking access to east-shore beaches in limbo
Sunbathers, keep your shirt on.
Parking to access the pristine and clothing-optional East Shore beaches this summer is in limbo.
After years of discussion and plans to provide adequate and environmentally sensitive access to the lake’s most primitive shoreline, planning officials aren’t much closer to a definitive parking plan.
The first draft of an extensive East Shore Access Plan was released to the Tahoe Transportation District Friday that was far from final.
The plan was developed by Harding ESE out of Carson City for the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.
Based on input from a steering committee made up of stakeholders, three public meetings and past access plans, Harding ESE developed 10 recommendations in an attempt to achieve a happy medium between appropriate levels of access and environmental preservation.
However, stakeholders and board members raised several questions and concerns with the plan.
Dave Roberts, assistant executive director of the League to Save Lake Tahoe, expressed concerns that the new plan contradicted the main goal of a 1999 East Shore parking and transit Memorandum of Intent between TRPA, TTD, the Tahoe Metropolitan Planning Organization, the U.S. Forest Service, Nevada Department of Transportation and the Nevada Division of State Parks.
The 1999 memorandum stated the intention of the above parties was “to provide improved beach access through the development of a State Route 28 Beach Access Plan that addresses how the elimination of roadside shoulder parking will be accomplished.”
However, the East Shore Access Plan released Friday recommends the initial construction of 117 paved parking spaces along the scenic corridor- parking the League is opposed to altogether.
“We feel a certain sense of betrayal with the development of this document,” Roberts said about the plan. “We think this document reflects an assumption that the (1999 Memorandum of Intent) has already been changed.”
One of the recommendations in the access plan is to revise the memorandum of intent, which was drafted before research and public comment was collected, according to Forest Service Recreation Supervisor
Lane said the access plan was drafted as a starting point for conversation, knowing all interested parties would not be satisfied by all the plan’s recommendations.
“That was considered to be (the access plan’s) greatest hope,” Lane said. “We haven’t had an affective management plan in place since the public got access 30 years ago.”
Lane said reaching the goal of adequate access to the East Shore while maintaining the environmental protection of it can only be achieved if compromise between stakeholders is reached.
“What would be refreshing is that people work together because Tahoe is at stake,” Lane said. “We’re trying to balance this unbalanceable plan, and unless there can be some consensus, what is the future of East Shore access?
“It’s not a question of do you ride a bus or do you take a car; it’s not that simple. This is an example of perhaps saying the East Shore is at capacity.”
Although Lane did not have definitive answers to the access problems, he did say the main goal should be preserving the beauty and environmental sanctity of Tahoe’s last undeveloped shoreline; which was the central issue for League spokeswoman Heidi Hill Drum as well.
“Roadside parking needs to be eliminated not only because of scenic quality, but because of erosion and safety issues,” Hill Drum said. “The Forest Service wants to expand the parking lots to allow more access to those beaches, but you cannot move forward without guaranteeing to a certain extent that you’ll eliminate roadside parking.”
Although no clear cut plans were approved Friday the TTD board voted to develop a business plan for implementing parking recommendations, to ask the Forest Service about the viability of charging for parking in Forest Service lots, and to clearly rewrite what problems stakeholders and agencies face in attempting to develop a workable East Shore access plan.
The group also spoke of creating a committee of stakeholders to discuss concerns and suggestions in revising the first draft of the access plan.
“This is not the end of the road, this is the beginning of the comment period,” said Richard Wiggins, TRPA’s transportation division chief. “The reason we’ve been spending years is because there are so many hot issues.”
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